Jordan Peterson’s enforced monogamy

I’ve written before about Jordan Peterson. The guy who thinks if women don’t want harassment at work they shouldn’t wear makeup. That identity politics is bad except the male supremacist kind he practices. That lobsters are proof that the male-dominated hierarchies we live with are natural. And that we can fix the problem of incel terrorism by enforced monogamy.  “Violent attacks are what happens when men do not have partners…The cure for that is monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.” If we don’t enforce monogamy, the rich, powerful men will hog all the women to themselves and so all the lower-class males will wind up lonely, frustrated and ready to lash out.

Unsurprisingly, this generated a lot of blowback, so Peterson quickly retrenched. He wasn’t suggesting something equivalent to government redistribution of women (even if he did talk about enforced monogamy as analogous to economic redistribution) and anyone who assumed that enforced monogamy meant anything of the sort was just ignorant! What he mans is “socially-promoted, culturally-inculcated monogamy because it’s an effective means of regulating female reproduction” (so the babies live, not because he’s male supremacist or anything) and aggression. That’s why monogamy exists, “pair-bonded marriages constituting, as they do, a human universal.” (if you overlook all the societies where it isn’t)

If Peterson is simply saying society should value monogamy, well it does. Hasn’t he noticed? Society promotes marriage and monogamy in everything from ads for diamonds to rom-coms. It’s strongly inculcated in us, more so than some periods in a past when a man having a mistress was part of being rich and successful. So either he doesn’t have a solution or he’s suggesting a solution that involves somehow pushing women to be monogamous without getting government involved. He doesn’t suggest how that would work — massive slut-shaming? — probably because any solution is going to be more sexist than he wants to look.

Because let’s face it, unless women have no choice, they’re unlikely to pair off with incels. Not (contrary to incels’ own belief) because they’re hideous trolls but because they celebrate the deaths of 10-year-old girls. And long to enslave women. And revere mass murderer Elliott Rodger. It’s hard to see many women jumping at the chance to shack up with these guys. And I don’t see the incels going for it unless they got a hottie — fat women having sex is one of their triggers.

Peterson pretends getting married is the only alternative to more incel violence (a revised version of George Gilder — Peterson ain’t original) but plenty of married men murder and kill their spouses. And astonishingly plenty of lonely men walk around not feeling the urge to kill or brutalize the people around them.

Nor, as pointed out here, is there any real evidence that alpha males will suck up all the available women leaving none for the incels (Echidne makes the same point). This has been a conservative argument against sexual freedom for years (like I said, not original): if people were free to arrange any marital situation they liked, the rich would have big harems and the rest of us (“us,” of course, is men) would be crying in our beer. The possibility that lots of women wouldn’t want that arrangement — that having a tenth or a hundredth of a man’s affection isn’t attractive, even if the sultan is rich and supports them — never figures in. Women are just the helpless puppets of their genetic drive to breed with superior men.

Peterson has the same ability lots of self-help gurus do, to recycle cliches and make them sound deep. But recycled baloney is still baloney.

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Filed under Undead sexist cliches

9 responses to “Jordan Peterson’s enforced monogamy

  1. Barry Reese

    This stuff is amazingly disturbing. It’s sometimes hard to fathom that these guys exist at all, let alone have banded together. Ugh.

    • I suspect banding together makes them worse. They can reinforce each other’s worst impulses. Elliot Rodger said in his manifesto that hanging out on one site had just reaffirmed all his opinions about women.

  2. Pieter Hulshoff

    That’s an interesting set of links to articles that claim Dr. Peterson said something, but I see surprisingly few (none actually) links to any of the hundreds of hours of video that he has online, where you could listen to what he actually says in stead of what others claim he said.

    These are his actual views on enforced monogamy:
    You can agree or disagree with them as you please, but let’s please debate what he’s actually said rather than what others claim he said.

    • My bad–I forgot to include that link. But as you’ll notice, I quoted it in the post, and discuss his defense and why I think it’s bullshit. And several of the other links do cover things he’s said in books and interviews, so I stand by my assessment.
      I don’t see any need to link to his videos—he’s doing fine without me giving him free publicity.

      • Pieter Hulshoff

        Fair enough, and that’s your prerogative since it’s your blog, though I disagree with the claims in some of those articles that that’s actually what he said. I do appreciate you allowing me to comment in spite of my disagreement with some of your words though.

        The basis of this argument is anthropological research showing that societies that promote monogamy (aka enforced monogamy) are less violent than societies that promote polygamy. Most societies already do that these days, though support has decreased over the last decade or so. When it comes to incels, Dr. Peterson has been very clear: They’ve got a lot of work to do on themselves. If every women rejects you, it’s not the women. It’s you.

  3. As I said in the article, the idea we don’t promote monogamy is dubious. The implication violence stems from guys not being able to get laid or married is even flimsier.

    • Pieter Hulshoff

      True, and that’s also what Dr. Peterson said: These people need to sort themselves out! His remark regarding enforced monogamy has to do with how most societies have realized by now that monogamy is good for the children, and that it reduces violence in general (at least compared to polygamous societies). It’s not a magical antidote to violence of course.

      However, monogamy is on the decline in some Western societies; polygamy isn’t nearly as frowned upon as it used to be. Whether that will work out well or not is not yet clear, but anthropological studies seem to indicate that there may be a price to pay for it.

      Personally, I’m not too fond of the commercials on Dutch tv and radio for “Second Love”, basically a (sex) contact site for people already in a relationship. If you do such a thing in agreement with your partner, that’s your choice, but I doubt that most of the people who visit that site do so with their partner’s approval.

      • I have no sympathy for cheaters. I’m not troubled if people want a consensual open relationship, though i know from friends who have them that it’s much tougher to pull off than people realize.

  4. Pingback: The thing about Trump’s cabinet … (and other sexism links) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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